Robert Kirby: My moment in the sun and the trials of fair-weather quarantining

Robert Kirby

Saturday was gorgeous. It was also my granddaughter Brylie’s 16th birthday. Due to the pandemic, she couldn’t have a party. She stood forlornly at the curb and waved while family members and her cheer-squad friends drove past.

The day wasn’t a total loss. The last car didn’t continue on. Instead, it pulled into the driveway and stopped. “Maze Runner” heartthrob Dylan O’Brien got out, gave Bry a million-dollar ring and swept her off her feet.

OK, not really. Her actual boyfriend, Zak, would have pulled off Dylan’s head. Also, judging from the look on Bry’s face, what actually happened was even better.

The last car did pull into the driveway and stop. But it was her car. Her parents bought it for her birthday. It wasn’t brand-new, but it was hers and represented a previously unattainable freedom. Almost.

Given the pandemic, Bry can only stare longingly at her birthday present in the driveway. She can’t drive it because she can’t finish the road test for her driver license. So, for now, the freedom of owning her own wheels remains unattainable.

I know how she feels. There are some home projects I would love to get to, but the stores for the materials are either closed, don’t have what I need, or my wife won’t let me go. We debated it on the way home from the drive-by birthday party.

Me • “All I need are some nails and wood. It’s not like I’m going to get the coronavirus and die.”

Her • “Huh. You can’t even climb a ladder without falling off and breaking something.”

There’s no arguing with that. But I wanted to get a couple of things to work on so I wouldn’t go crazy staring at the walls.

I convinced her that we should stop by a lumber store. I would suit up, race inside, and grab enough material to keep me busy. She was so sick of the elastic bands littering the floor because of the gun Sonny sent me, she was willing to risk it.

The parking lot of Home Depot looked like the one at Disney World. The place was packed with carefree sun worshippers soon to be COVID zombies.

After making sure I was suited up properly — gloves, mask, dripping in hand sanitizer, and peering through shop goggles — I hurried in amongst the irresponsible.

Nobody seemed to be worried about dying. The weather was fabulous. No way could there still be a pandemic if the skies were blue and the sun bright.

I grabbed a board, a box of nails and a candy bar, paid for them, and then skulked out to the car, feeling guilty for violating social distancing.

Back in the car, I was doused with Lysol, and we drove home, hardly daring to breathe. Once inside the safety of our own home, we waited for the first signs of sickness.

Nothing happened except the resumption of boredom. There’s something about cheating death that wears out a person. I fell asleep. A couple of hours later, I woke up and finished putting together the flower planter.

Then I sat in a lawn chair and watched the passing traffic to see if Brylie was equally adventurous. I waited until darkness fell. It seems some members of my family are responsible.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.